Lifestyle & Culture

I Sat Down, They Stood Up: Sit Down Stand Up Comedy Review

There were laughs, chuckles, rolled eyes, and a comedian attempting to take an audience member’s jacket off. Jack Moran reviews the lineup at this month’s Sit Down Stand Up Comedy.

Having never been to one before and having nothing better to do on a Monday night, I decided to check out the Sit Down Stand Up Comedy last night. Armed with the iPhone Notes app that I tried to discreetly add to in case one of the comedian’s onstage saw me with it and called me out for using my phone during their set, I took some notes on each performer. Without much further ado, here are my totally professional opinions that you definitely needed on six comedians who are way funnier than me.

Guy Montgomery

New Zealand comedian Guy Montgomery was the MC for the night and he was a nice enough palette cleanser between sets. Of what I saw on stage, his audience interaction jokes were the best part. He was pretty conversational with the audience, worked them into gags, and really seemed to have a lot of off the cuff wit which was pretty enjoyable to watch.

His longer-form, pre-written jokes fell a little flat for me. They tended to take the form of long, rambling stories that built to a singular punchline at the end that wasn’t quite good enough to justify the length of build-up we’d sat through previous.

Like a lot of (male) comedians out there, he very much subscribed to the method of comedy which essentially boils down to “if I shout my punchline really loudly, people will think what I said was funny”. To be fair, the audience did seem to enjoy it so I guess there’s a reason comedians have been using that technique for so long.

Oliver Twist

The first set came from Rwanda-born Queensland-based comedian Oliver Twist. He opened his set by essentially asking where all the black people were in Newcastle because he hadn’t seen any and his incisive comedy on race relations in Australia just kept getting better from there. A fair few minutes of his set revolved around the fact that his name really is Oliver Twist and how bewildering that can be to some (white) people. Him acting out a job interview where the interviewers were definitely not expecting to see him walk in was a definite highlight of the night.

His set was really clever and insightful and had me laughing the whole way through. On top of that he had a really affable and charming stage persona that kept me engaged for the entire set and it was a shame to see it end so quickly.

Lauren Bonner

Lauren Bonner was good but it felt like her set was the shortest of the night and so it didn’t seem like she got as much of a chance to put a stack of jokes in. It could have been that her routine was a bit tighter than some of the others and used less audience interaction, so it was able to get wrapped up pretty quickly.

That being said, as short as it felt there were a few solid jokes weaved into it. One particularly memorable one was her saying that she’s so pro-choice that if her mum wanted to kill her right now she’d be fine with it and that, if anything, it’d be a bit of a relief. A lot of her jokes were pretty boundary-pushing and she definitely didn’t stray away from any topics that you might find taboo. Explaining what Amyl was and what it’s recreationally used for was a particularly graphic joke that I was not expecting but laughed at nonetheless.

Sam Campbell

The first thing I wrote in my notes about Sam Campbell’s set was ‘largely incomprehensible’ and I stand by that. His comedy was very frenetic and frantic, complete with vocal tics and shouting and then repeating what he had just shouted. There were a lot of non-sequiturs with jokes just coming out of nowhere that left you never knowing what was coming next. A lot of the set was bewilderingly funny to me in the sense that there were times where I wasn’t really sure what I was laughing at but I just couldn’t help to do so.

One of the highlights was when mid-set he got distracted by the sound of the Velcro on an audience member’s jacket. He then stepped down to the audience to take the jacket off the guy. A similar highlight that was seemed completely improvised was him pretending the portrait of Godfrey Tanner behind him was speaking to him throughout his set.

Aaron Chen

Aaron’s set was largely built around the kind of awkward and shy stage presence he had. It was good sometimes and suited the jokes he was making but other times seemed to get repetitive and halted the flow of jokes. He took self-depreciating humour to another level throughout which, when coupled with the character he portrayed on stage, made you feel bad for him in a way that you don’t with other comedians who might pepper their sets with similar style jokes.

One thing I really liked was that he called out people in the audience having their own conversations which, as the kind of person who is easily angered by people talking during shows, I definitely enjoyed. He had a full conversation with one guy and it was weird and awkward but definitely funny.

Eric Hutton

Okay, I’m going to be completely honest and say that I couldn’t actually remember who the last comedian of the night was. His name wasn’t on the event page and I actually had to email the events team to find his name out. Becky Lucas, the advertised headliner, was sick so Eric jumped in at the last minute and I do have to commend him for that. Jumping into a gig last minute has got to be tough and he did deliver a funny set.

I will say that he was the least memorable. He seemed like your typical comedian, told some fairly standard jokes in a style that I’d seen before. I think given that he was up after comedians like Sam Campbell and Aaron Chen who had such distinctive performance styles, it was always going to be a challenge for him to stand out. I think if his set had been earlier in the night, I would have appreciated it a lot more but the placement was just a bit off for me.

 

All in all, it was a good night of comedy, especially considering it was free. Jokes-wise there were way more hits than misses and it was a fun collection of sets and personas on stage. I think the sheer wildness of Sam Campbell’s set will be something I won’t forget anytime soon. The audience seemed to enjoy it and get in on the jokes that required audience participation which was good to see. If you get the chance, you should definitely try and catch the next Sit Down Stand Up Comedy night at GT Bar. It’s free and funny and a pretty good way to end a day at uni.

Bonus Notes:

  1. Apparently the uniform for male comedians is jeans and a pullover because four out of the five wore exactly that.
  2. A lot of jokes started with “I don’t know if you have this in Newcastle…” followed by something that we definitely have in Newcastle. It was kind of funny the first time but then just got a bit tired.
  3. If you and your friends don’t want to be included in audience participation gags, don’t sit in the front rows. If you don’t mind being involved in that kind of thing, act boisterous and sit in the back row and one of the comedians will potentially bribe you with free drinks to sit in the front.
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